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Dear Universities: Stop pretending you were never racist

With BLM bubbling over on the surface, a lot of people are trying to show their support in various ways.

Big chain corporations like Starbucks are doing it in ways of social media posts (and then forbidding workers to wear anything with BLM on it right after) and others are doing it in the form of donations.

Some corporations and groups are more successful than others in this. In moments like these, hypocrisy can slip out (see: the NFL).

For sports teams, this kind of thing proposes an interesting challenge. Or at least, it seems to be, given that sports teams and universities often don’t want to come to terms with their past.

Or change it, either.

The Height of Learning

However, some universities are still trying. Recently, University of Florida wrote an email to its students about new implementations to address racism.

Some of these changes included anti-bias training, grants for faculty on topics of racism, changing any racist names of the buildings, and getting rid of statues. Oh, and discontinuing the use of the Gator Bait chant.

That last one got a lot more attention than you may have expected.

The term “Gator bait” is a snapshot of America’s horrific past.  During slavery and the 20th century, white hunters would use black babies as prey to lure alligators.

UF isn’t alone in this; FSU’s Seminole War Chant is still around. Still, though, this goes to show how racism has become ingrained in university culture.

It’s completely normalized.

UF is not the only university addressing its’ own racism, however. Marshall University stated that they were going to implement a Coalition for Anti-Racism and plan to hire a more diverse staff.

Thomas College wrote of its plans to implement a more diverse community and curriculum. It’s nice that at the very least, writing about their plans to address racism within their communities.

It would be ridiculous to try to ignore the roots of universities or pretend that racism has not seeped into and affects most aspects of university life. I mean, for crying out loud, NYU’s Bobst library is named after an Anti-Semitic.

Changing Your Racist Roots

Other universities are attempting to start a dialogue or at least post about Juneteenth. Columbia University sent out an email regarding Juneteenth and racial justice resources.

However, posts about universities are, not necessarily sufficient when it comes to things like this. Yet, these kinds of posts don’t do enough to acknowledge the history or dismantle the remnants that still remain on college campuses.

Possibly moving forward as Oxford University has with their #ITooAmOxford hashtag and account dedicated to highlighting minority students’ experiences they’ve had at the university might be the answer.

It’s not about pretending these things never happened. We can’t just write off these horrible things, nor should we. It doesn’t mean we have to keep them, either.

Of course, with that in mind, the question becomes what will be done versus what should be done. (and what will actually be done in the future.)